Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Golden Age (28) : The Flying Squad

The Flying Squad in this novel by Edgar Wallace is indeed the famous Metropolitan Police unit though don't expect a Sweeney-esque romp here. Instead is a decent if largely unoriginal crime tale set mostly in the dingier parts of London.

Bradley is the police inspector aiming to bring down drug smuggling gangs in the London docks. Linked to the hoods is Anna who wrongly believes Bradley was responsible for her brother's death. As the story progresses her resolve and hatred for Bradley wanes. Naturally they fall in love and head off to... Brazil? 

Although a reasonable read the story does run in circles frequently and would have been much improved with a bit of editing. Some of the characters, especially Anna, often act quite odd.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Back to Minworth

I returned to Minworth yesterday to take some more photographs along the canal. The week before my canal walking had been curtailed by a gang of geese but luckily this week they were terrorising someone elsewhere! You can see my Minworth photos here. I also did a local walk on Saturday and discovered the remnants of railway sidings at the oil depot near where I live. I've driven past many times but some things you can only see if you are on foot.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Hi Fella memories

A few weeks ago I began a long term project to clear my Mum's loft out of all the junk that has accumulated up there over the last few decades. There is a lot of stuff up there, much of it I am unclear as to why including dozens of computer magazines from the early 1990s! One thing I did find up there was a children's book my Mum bought me when i was a child many years ago. I did not throw this away.

"Hi Fella" by Eza Zistel is the story of a puppy who gets lost when the box he is being transported in falls over the side of a truck. He has to learn how to survive, at first with a raccoon and then a cat, until he can find his way home. Wherever or whatever that is. It is a delightful story and I am glad it was dumped up in the loft along with everything else instead of being thrown away. Sometimes hoarding is good.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Churches (87) : St Cuthbert, Shustoke

The parish church of St Cuthbert, Shustoke in Warwickshire dates from 1307 and was built on the site of an earlier church with some Norman masonry re-used. The church has a West tower, a nave, a chancel and a South porch. A spire was added to the tower in the 15th century. The church was built from red sandstone.

The church was restored in 1873 with the chancel and porch being rebuilt. However, four years later a fire caused by a lightning strike badly damaged the roof and internal fittings forcing another church restoration!

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Model Week : Another coach updated

Another coach has been updated with passengers and has joined the active fleet at Birches Green. The Ybbstalbahn coach has replaced the VIR coach which has now into storage. This is one of the railway's oldest coaches and has maken a welcome return.

In other model news the first model kit project of 2021 has begun!

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Golden Age (27) : Thirteen Guests

Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon is a classic example of Golden Age murder mystery, it is set in a country house, mysterious crimes are going on and there is a lot of potential suspects! 

The suspects are the guests at the house of the local Lord, the thirteenth being the unfortunate John Foss who spends most of the book lying on a couch with a twisted ankle. This does allow him to experience some of the odd goings on in the house at night.

These include a vandalised painting, a dead dog and then some dead people. The police in the form of Inspector Kendell then has to unravel the complicated lives of the guests at the house and try and discover just what has been going on.

A decent mystery so full of Golden Age tropes it might approach self-parody at times but a witty good read. The characterisations are well drawn and the investigation ends with a bit of an unusual twist.

Saturday, 9 January 2021


For obvious reasons I did not go far for today's adventure. Minworth is just a short drive away (i have indeed walked this far in the past). I took some photos along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal in a couple of locations. I also found the parish church which is tucked away on a narrow lane and quite easy to miss! You can see my photos here.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Churches (86) : All Saints, Bow Brickhill

The first record of the All Saints, Bow Brickhill in Buckinghamshire is from 1185. The original church probably had an aisleless nave and chancel. The church was rebuilt in the fifteenth century. The West tower was added along with aisles on an extended nave. In the seventeenth century the church became dilapidated and was disused for nearly one hundred and fifty years.

The church was restored in the mid-1750s when part of the chancel was rebuilt. More restoration occurred in 1883 when the South porch was added. The church is largely built from local sandstone rubble.

Due to the location of the church atop a hill it has been used for non-religious purposes too. In the Napoleonic war the tower was used as a telegraph station. In the Second World War the tower was used by the Royal Observer Corps.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The Midlands Photos Blog

We have a new blog to join the family. The Midlands Photo Blog is similar to our Waterways blog and the now defunct Railway Photo Blog in having a new photo published every week day. The Midlands Photo Blog will be concentrating Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Leicestershire (including Rutland). One town or village will be the theme every week with photos of interesting buildings, other built environment and nature. You can see the blog here.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Golden Age (26) : The Lyttleton Case

The Lyttleton Case is an enjoyable crime novel by R.A.V. Morris. It includes quite a mixture of crimes too as it involves a missing person inquiry, impersonation, grave snatching, kidnap and murder! The novel contains many twists and turns, a complicated and intricate investigation by both the police and (as this is a 1920s mystery) the keen amateur too.

The story opens with the chance discovery of a young man's body and financier Sir Lyttleton, who is called off to the USA urgently but never returns. Sir Lyttleton's daughter Doris and her fiancĂ©, Basil are the ones who raise the alarm. Chief Inspector Candlish has been investigating the dead young man to no avail and moves onto the missing Lyttleton. Lyttleton's body later turns up in another person's coffin and Candlish begins to realise the two cases are linked somehow... 

Not a flawless story but one with a number of surprises and a good pace throughout with a bit of flair. Strangely, despite the promise of this book, Morris did not write any others.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Model Week : Bringing the 2020 model making season to a (slightly late) end

Project #92, a Folland Gnat in "Yellowjacks" livery is now completed bar varnishing and brings the 2020 model making season to an end. I know it's January but the model was nearly completed as the new year began so it counts! Its not the best model i've ever made, it was one of those projects where everything seemed to go wrong or break or not fit. Strangely though applying the decals (which is when things usually go pear shaped) went fine. So there you are, 2020 in a nutshell perhaps.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Review of 2020 : Another year of rail travel

In 2019 i began to maintain a spreadsheet of the trains and operating companies i had travelled on throughout the year. Last year (2020) i managed to travel on one hundred and ninety trains which was pretty good going all considering (the total was two hundred and forty in 2019). These figures were for network mainline trains only so not including preserved railways or the London Underground (though moot in the case of 2020 as i travelled on neither!)

So, here we are the graphs for traction and train operating companies in 2020, it can be compared with the graphs for 2019. West Midlands Railway and the Class 323 dominated, though as that is the train and company which operates from my local station Chester Road it is hardly surprising!

Friday, 1 January 2021

Review of 2020 : December

The final month of the year and with lockdown restrictions lifted the rail adventures could resume. They started with a trip to Leamington Spa, focusing on the parish church. Next was a trip to Nuneaton, a place i have visited before but never left the station, so i thought it was time to change that. The same could be said about the trip to Bromsgrove the week after, i headed into the town for the first time.

Following Christmas there was just enough time for a trip to Walsall before lockdown (in all but name) descended once again. When the 2021 adventures can begin is not yet known but they will, you can be sure of that!

Song of the month was "no need to hide" by Softwave. Artist of the year was Trevor Something. Let's do all this again next December.